Motor shows always feel optimistic with their bright lights, aura of noisy enterprise and all that shiny hardware, and this year’s Frankfurt fest ought to exude a real air of promise.
Europe is far from out of the recession yet, but the car-makers are beginning to feel that if the drive out of the valley hasn’t quite begun, they are at least unlikely to descend any further. And that will be good news for the squeezed middle of volume players feeling the weight of the rising premium players on the one hand, and the sharp jab of value brands on the other.
Renault is one of those squeezed middle players, particularly in the UK where its market share continues to plumb new depths despite the new Clio’s arrival.
While it’s hardly likely to reverse that trend, the airing of its high-end Initiale Paris show car at least displays the company’s determination to retain some sort of share in the market for cars costing £25,000-plus. And to develop another version of a car that with Chrysler, it invented almost 30 years ago.
That car was the large people carrier, and the Initiale is strong hint at the next-generation Espace, which it’s reckoned will emerge next year. The Initiale Paris also throws some light on how Renault is going to shape its more expensive models, and I’m keen to see what that shape will be.
Of course, this is dangerous territory for the company, its previous failed foray into this market with the Vel Satis and Avantime memorable for its misguided-ness. If it all goes wrong this time, it will probably signal the end of the high-end Renault.
So here’s hoping.